$15M taken from U of A reserves to cover operating shortfall

EDMONTON — The University of Alberta is dipping into its reserves after the provincial budget left it approximately $79 million short for 2019-20.

Administration confirmed its board of governors approved on Friday a one-time transfer of $15 million to the academic year’s operating budget.

According to an annual report published in March, the reserve account held about $55 million and was created to protect the school’s operations from the volatility of financial markets.  

In a Nov. 26 statement, President and Vice-Chancellor David Turpin said the university was working to manage a $44-million cut to its Campus Alberta grant and a $35-million cut to its Infrastructure Maintenance Program funding.

The reserve withdrawal and cancellation of “all possible” maintenance and infrastructure projects helped to free up $34 million, Turpin said.

However, the remaining $45 million would be made up through a 4.7 per cent cut to faculties and an average in-year eight per cent cut to central support units.

“These cuts are significant and will require some hard choices. Our priority in making these reductions is to maintain an outstanding learning experience for our students and to support the amazing research that has made us one of the world’s best universities,” the school’s president wrote.

He added the school would be continuing to work on the 2020-21 budget and following years.